Two officers who ran into the sea to rescue a woman in mental health crisis have been nominated for the national Police Bravery Awards.
PC Ian Chattun and Temporary Sergeant Katy Evans of Dyfed Powys Police were both on duty when a call came in expressing serious concerns for the immediate safety of a woman who was threatening to harm herself.
The officers located the woman, who had a recent history of self-harm, in the North Beach area of Aberystwyth. She had been completely submerged in the water but had been pulled from the cold and choppy sea by her friends and was now sitting on the break-water.
They attempted to negotiate with her to calm her down but she became extremely distressed and ran back into the sea.
The seabed quickly slopes away to several metres in depth so she soon began to struggle and the officers could tell her life was in immediate danger.
Both officers selflessly entered the water in full uniform, including PPE and body armour, but she was swept too far out to sea. In their attempts to bring her back to safety, both officers were completely submerged in the water.
T/Sgt Evans, who has 12 years’ service, managed to activate her emergency button to summon further units, who quickly arrived on the scene. Her attempts to ask for assistance were compounded by the waves breaking over her head as she tried to update her situation.
PC Chattun, who has been with the Force for three years, swam to the aid of the woman and together with T/Sgt Evans and two of the woman’s friends, were able to reach her, bring her back to shore and onto the beach. Paramedics attended the scene of the incident, which happened at around 2.30am on Sunday 18 August 2019, and took the woman to hospital.
Roger Webb, secretary of Dyfed Powys Police Federation which put the officers forward for the bravery awards, said: “This was a selfless act of bravery by both police officers as well as members of the public who undoubtedly saved a vulnerable young person’s life.
“The officers had no regard for their own personal safety and entered the water to save the life of a stranger in need.
“Body-worn video recordings of the incident have been viewed and the actions of the officers in the water is simply outstanding. They each reflect the true values of a police officer and have put themselves at great risk. Rather than see an event unfold and take no action, the officers have reacted quickly and saved a life.”
The annual Police Bravery Awards, sponsored by Police Mutual, honour some of the finest officers in England and Wales who have performed incredible acts of bravery, while on or off duty.
This year’s ceremony, which was due to be held in London in July, was postponed due to the pandemic, but will be staged on Thursday 15 July 2021. A total of 94 brave officers from forces across England and Wales have been put forward for an award.
John Perks, chief executive officer of Police Mutual, said in a message to all nominees: “Police Mutual is, as always, proud to be supporting the National Police Bravery Awards in its 25th anniversary year.
“Despite having to postpone the original ceremony, your courage was never forgotten and it goes without saying to all of the nominees from 2019 that your commitment to keeping the public safe in the most demanding of circumstances shows unlimited bravery and resilience.
“This is something each and every one of you should be immensely proud of, as I and all of my colleagues at Police Mutual are on a daily basis when we see how hard your roles can be. We very much look forward to meeting you in July 2021 for the ceremony and our chance to give our thanks in person.”
John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation, said: “We are incredibly proud of all the nominees from across England and Wales. The actions of these courageous officers provide a small snapshot of the amazing work our colleagues carry out day in and day out.
“PS Evans and PC Chattun risked their lives by swimming out to sea during a storm to rescue a vulnerable young woman from icy and dangerous waters. They acted in the finest traditions of British policing - and there can be no doubt that these two officers saved a life that day. It was an incredibly selfless act and one which is rightly being recognised.
“As a Police Federation, we wanted to make sure these brave officers receive the recognition they deserve in the year their actions were meant to be celebrated. We look forward to seeing them all in person – and revealing regional and national winners - when the time is right in 2021.”